*This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.
But I want it! I want to buy it! Just get money from the bank!
As soon as I heard those words come out from my 6 year-old daughter’s mouth, I felt like a failure as a mother. Where did I go wrong? Whose entitled kid is this? And I thought that we had this type of behavior where she throws a fit whenever she doesn’t get what she wants all worked out. Sigh.
Raising Kids These Days is Harder
There’s pressure to be the best parent on the block. We’re too scared to make mistakes because heaven forbid we get bashed online. With the rising popularity of social media platforms these days, everybody can just air out their opinion regarding your parenting skills, unsolicited or otherwise.
Also, with hundreds of thousands of parenting tips on the interwebs, it can totally short circuit an exhausted mother’s brain. It leaves you more confused than ever.
A Pinterest pin says you should spoil your kids because having nice things will teach them to be responsible. Another blog post says reversing indulgent parenting can lead to a happier family life.
I have come to realize that in order for my family to work, I should focus on what MY family needs and what works for US. One urgent family matter that definitely needs working on ASAP is the state of our finances.
After I attended a financial literacy forum last week, I realized that my husband and I have made so many bad financial decisions in the past. Things that left us where we are now. More than the hard realization though, I was encouraged to turn our situation around.
So when exactly is the best time to plan for your financial freedom? They say 20 years ago. The next best time? TODAY. It is never too late until it’s too late!
By making changes in our financial habits starting today, I know that we can make it. The main reason why I want to do this is that I have two kids whom I want to be more exposed to financial matters compared to how I was when I was their age. The earlier they start, the higher the chance that they achieve financial understanding and freedom at an early age.
With these small but important changes, I am hoping that I will be able to instill positive financial habits for my kids as early as now.
We are NOT Poor.
One of things that I did in the past was to tell my kids that we were poor. We couldn’t afford to buy toys. Our money was just enough for food/groceries. What exactly was I teaching my kids whenever I said those lines? I was telling them to STOP and accept the fact that we are POOR and we CANNOT afford to buy stuff.
What I forgot was that the main thing that I would have wanted them to learn, is to GO FOR IT.
Just not right now.
BUT we can find other ways like SAVING their allowance so we can go back and buy the toy as as soon as they have enough.
We are poor because we are poor — this is not a tautology. The culture of poverty is self-perpetuating. We are poor because our people are lazy. – F. Sionil José
What the Filipino novelist, writer and journalist F. Sionil José pointed out as one of the reasons why Filipinos are so poor struck a chord on me. He said it in a manner so raw that it is so painful to read.
Each time I was telling my kids to stop asking for a certain item because we can’t afford it, I was really telling them to stop dreaming for something bigger. To be contented and to be stuck. This is your fate and there is nothing we can do about it.
That’s exactly the opposite of what I want my kids to learn! I want them to dream big and to go for it.
So today, I never tell my kids that we are poor or that we can’t afford it. I ask them what they think WE CAN DO so we can afford it one day.
Of course, we still discuss whether it is something that they really need and can use in the future. If we decide that it is worth spending money on, then we talk about how to save for it.
They are excited at the thought of saving money. Knowing that they are DOING SOMETHING to get what they want. It also reinforces delayed gratification and this I think will guide them in the many choices that they will have to make in the future as adults.
Kids and Money Talk
For some reason, I felt awkward talking about our finances in front of the kids. This especially happens when we are on a tight budget. If the kids are around, my husband and I talk in a curt and veiled manner. What I didn’t realize was that by doing this, I lost the opportunity to teach my kids the value of money. Instead, albeit inadvertently, I was showing them that money matters is something that we should be scared of. Hush hush.
What I should have done was to be upfront that we have limitations as of the moment. That mom and dad are doing their best to make ends meet and to make it work, we need their cooperation. That way, they will better understand why we may delay buying new shoes or why we need to forgo dessert at the restaurant and settle for choco lanai from the neighborhood bakery (It’s tastier anyway!).
I tried to change my technique just this weekend when my 6 year-old daughter and I went grocery shopping. My daughter loves a specific chocolate drink. She drinks it every single morning. Upon comparing it with another brand, I saw that we can save money by switching. I showed both products to my daughter and naturally, she reached out for her favorite brand. I took the opportunity to explain to her that if we get the other brand, we get to save money which will mean we can afford to buy additional food supplies for the week.
Right then and there, I felt that I am on the right track. Not only was I able to teach my kid how to stretch our budget, that short explanation saved me from the headache of a tantrum had I just said no directly to buying her favorite drink.
You Can’t Model what You Aren’t
Walk the talk. Practice what you preach. Do what you say, say what you do. We can quote all the quotes in the world regarding behavior modeling but the bottom line is we can’t model what we aren’t.
“Most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.” – Albert Bandura
Kids learn from watching adults and more often than not, the first models in their lives are the primary caregivers. Kids are like sponges; they absorb observable behaviors and this includes unhealthy ones. If I want my kids to develop good behaviors, I need to to be good role model.
Instead of telling the kids to save money, I have decided that moving forward, I will take them to the bank whenever I make a deposit into our account. My husband and I are also planning to open a separate bank account for each of them by the end of this year. By doing this, I am showing consistency in my values and actions.
Another thing that I want to expose my kids to is how to invest. I’m looking at getting a mutual fund for the kids as soon as they have saved enough money in the bank and since I want money matters to be a family matter, I plan to take them with me (especially the 12 year-old) when we’re finally ready to talk to a financial advisor so that they will hear the benefits first hand.
Consistency is Key
While I cannot predict the future, what I can do as a parent is to be consistent in guiding the kids. To help them build a good foundation of knowledge and pray for their future. If I want them to grow up as responsible and financially sound adults, I need to be consistent in my guidance.
I am raising my kids so they can leave me in the future.
And with gratefulness.
Disclaimer: This is an official entry to the SINAG Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Award.